Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Poverty is Man-made...

Today I learned that the reporter who took the picture of the child I wrote about on the article
"We Will Make Things Happen - via World Pulse," committed suicide. It's shocking and sad to learn about such tragedy. I have mixed emotions of sadness and helplessness.

The problem of poverty is real but not many leaders probably view it as a priority to be solved.
Poverty is man-made...and only man can provide the solution.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Domestic Violence...Will It Ever End?

This wouldn't be the first time that I've written an article about a diplomat who has violated human rights and got away with it because of diplomatic immunity or stature in society. But I will focus on the human rights violation committed in general and not the stature of the offender.

A few days ago I read a link to an article from a Women's NGO site regarding the brutal beating inflicted by a Nigerian diplomat on his wife. (http://women-news.org/2011/10/​20/jonathan-reinstates-wife-be​ating-kenyan-ambassador-dr-chi​jioke-wilcox-wigwe/).

If the pictures are anything to go by, the physical injuries which the Ambassador's wife accused him of inflicting on her were clear evidence of domestic violence. To describe her condition in the local lingo commonly used for badly-beaten people - she was used as a punching bag…and worse.

Studies revealed that such kind of violence are not documented in Nigeria because of widespread tolerance of violence against women: "once a woman is married, she is expected to endure whatever she meets in her matrimonial home." The study went as far as stating that half of Nigeria’s women are victims of domestic violence.

Some members of their families and within their communities subject countless women and girls in Nigeria to violence, as in many countries throughout the world. Such incidents are difficult to document, the violation being done in the privacy of what is supposed to be called a home. However, studies also suggest that the levels of violence are high. More than a third and in some groups nearly two-thirds of women in Nigeria are believed to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the family.

In 2007, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed abill "to provide protection against Domestic Violence and for Connected Purposes." The Law was specifically aimed at protecting the victims of domestic violence. However, spreading awareness down to the households in Nigeria was also a problem. To help address this, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA), a non-government organization (NGO), initiated a move to make homes aware of their civil rights and for organisations and lawyers to utilize the law to arrest domestic violence in Nigeria. (source: Abdulwahab Abdulah of Vanguard)

It’s sad that those we expect to protect us are sometimes the very people involved in the crime…our own family-members or even the police. Fear and shame and the cultural belief that men are the dominant members in the family often drive the victimized women to the point of suffering in silence. Nigeria is just one of many developing countries where women are expected to be submissive and uncomplaining.

It is where NGOs like DeltaWomen, World Pulse  and other cause-oriented organizations involved in protecting and promoting women’s rights in particular, come in. They bring awareness to the world and help move governments and their citizens to recognize the problem and do something about it.

The road to achieving this is by no means easy but it is moving and the number is growing that can put pressure to governments like Nigeria to seriously address the problem.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Musings on Human Trafficking...

I couldn’t help getting emotional again as I read a touching post from a writer about a girl who was sold to a brothel at age six and locked inside a room to be raped by 15 or more men every night.
His words reminded me what I at times forget – that though the human capacity for evil can be so great, humans have an equally awesome capacity for resilience and recovery.

I’ve read quite a number of articles of how women and children survived abuses wrought by war, poverty and greed for power and money. That they survived at all is amazing. Their survival and show of hope and strength to rise above what they had gone through always makes me appreciate how life has been good to me.80% of human trafficking involves sexual labor and exploitation, and 19% accounts for victims of forced or bonded labor. It does not surprise me that 90% of human trafficking victims are women and girls, or that over 20,000-50,000 women are trafficked into the United States every year, or that 2 million children are forced into prostitution every year, and half of them live in Asia.

To say at this point that trafficking of human beings “is becoming” a major source of income for some organized crime groups would be an understatement. It has always been there but people way back then probably did not have the courage to get organized to be heard and be strong in number to make the world aware at how serious the problem is. Though these anti-trafficking civic groups have grown, so have these organized crime groups become bolder. They have no qualms about enslaving people, or worse, “executing” those who defy or try to escape from them. And it’s sad that in some publicized news about this, people expected to protect the victims get caught in the web of crime , deceit and power.

I found a very interesting article of how organized human trafficking can be from a July 2005 article of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) (http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?ID=318) . It illustrated how victims are systematically trafficked from Nigeria to Italy, where the largest group of victims from the Sub-Saharan Africa at that time came from Nigeria. It clearly showed the collusion of people from several points of contact until the victims reached their destination.

Even in countries like Cambodia and Kosovo where the UN and NATO peacekeeping forces were stationed, prostitution increased by huge numbers. This has caused a lot of flak and criticism on the UN and NATO from women's rights and human rights groups for not doing anything concrete about the situation. (source: Tulika Nair)

Despite all the profiling of these criminals and determining the network by which the trafficking cycle reaches its complicity, what has really been done to eradicate it? The problem undeniably persists.

In Nigeria, the government signed and ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (often referred to as the Palermo Protocol). Though PRIO pointed out that domestic legislation and legal practice in the area of trafficking remained erratic in 2005, the Trafficking in Persons report (TIP report) released in 2011 classified Nigeria under Tier 1 (http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/164228.htm), meaning it has complied with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards. This however, does not say that trafficking no longer exists. It is still identified as a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Government fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has, over the last year, “sustained a modest number of trafficking prosecutions and provision of assistance to several hundred trafficking victims, but did not demonstrate an increase in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.” (http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/164233.htm)

The Philippines, in March 2003 enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law called The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 or the Republic Act No. 3208. Several women’s rights groups and advocates against human trafficking were formed to help police and prosecute offenders. However, the problem still prevails.

India’s current law—the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956 (ITPA)—does not penalize sex workers. Instead, the legislation targets those who profit from or exploit prostitutes. Government’s move to make trafficking illegal sparked debates in 2008 as some sectors argued this would drive offenders further into hiding thus increasing health risks.

Both India and the Philippines are categorized as Tier 2 under the 2011 Trafficking in Persons report. This ranking is the second to lowest in which “the government does not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)’s minimum standards, but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.”

Human trafficking will thrive anywhere for as long as there are people willing to pay for sex or child labor, and poverty drives people to desperation to be able to survive.

It takes a lot of perseverance, courage and hope for victims to rise above the trauma.

It takes compassion and understanding from others, not ridicule and persecution to help these victims regain a normal life again.

It takes our voice..our action to move leaders and governments to address major human rights concerns and make things right…

Monday, October 31, 2011

Not Just a Woman's Struggle...

Of late, I've been reading about so many issues that have affected me...women and children's rights being violated, famine, violence, flood victims in several countries, even the juvenile crimes going on in major streets that I could not imagine my own children who are much older would even think of doing.. All of these issues have somehow touched a chord. I keep being thankful at how blessed I am that my children have never experienced poverty, violence or even wading in muddied flood waters. For weeks I couldn't find the right words to express what I felt.

A few days ago I read Nicholas Kristoff's tweet on New Zealand being the first country to allow women to vote and I thought, "Women always seem to have to fight and struggle to be given what they rightly deserve in society." There are so many things limiting women because of religion or culture that have to be changed by society. I can understand that these things may take years to evolve but it always has to start somewhere to make people aware that the rest of the world may consider some of society's beliefs and practices violative of human rights.

I can recall how much I reacted reading news some time back about a judge confirming that it is lawful for a husband to slap his wife for buying an expensive abaya from the money he gave her to buy one. My blog had all the !!! and ??? questioning how there can even be such a law...but sadly there is. Or women arrested for driving...that again elicited a lot of !!! and ??? from me especially since I've been driving a car since I was 18. Or of a mass prayer held to celebrate Women's Day but only the country's female leader was allowed to enter the place of worship because women were not allowed inside to join the celebration. I personally would have reacted if I were the female leader...

If these things are deprived of women in some societies even today, I can see how much struggle women have to go through to fight for our rights to be equal as men in society. It is good to know though, that women's organizations have been getting support from various sectors in society to be recognized for their true value and contribution to the human race.

In the Philippines, history points to women forming a Suffragist group as early as 1897 to be able to particiapte as voters and in other organizations that were male-dominated. In 1937 a law was passed allowing only 300,000 women to vote but it was only in 1943 that full suffrage to women was given. Now the right to vote is almost universal and it was not just the women's struggle but that of societies who were open to change for the better, and to recognize the true value of women...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Breast ironing in #Cameroon: mothers protect girls by mutilating them







In #Cameroon, breast ironing has scarred the bodies and psyches of millions of #girls. Very upsetting but true. sometimes it's culture, religion and fear of sexual oppression of their daughters when they develop into womanhood that drive them to such practices.

Read and spread the wordCAMEROON: Mama Hates My Sprouting Breasts

Friday, May 27, 2011

Reminiscing...

I'm missing my daily dose of "Don't Smoke!" reminders...just reminiscing ...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

10 HUNGER FACTS...

A re-post from World Food Programme...

TEN HUNGER FACTS:

How many hungry people are there in the world and where do most of them live? What effect does it have on their minds and bodies and what can we do to help them? Here is a list of 10 things about hunger that absolutely everyone should know.

1. At present, there are 925 million people in the world who do not eat enough to be healthy. That means, one in every seven people on Earth goes to bed hungry each night. (Source: FAO News Release, 2010)

2. Rising food prices pushed an additional 44 million people into hunger between June 2010 and February 2011 when they soared to their highest level ever. (Source: World Bank Food Price Watch, 2011)

3. While the number of hungry people has risen, as a percentage of the world population, hunger has actually fallen from 33 per cent of the population in 1969 to just over 15 per cent of the population in 2010. (Source: FAO, 2010)

4. Well over half of the world’s hungry people–some 578 million people–live in Asia and the Pacific region. Africa accounts for just over one quarter of the world’s hungry population. Source: (Source: FAO, The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2010)

5. Hunger is number one on the list of the world’s top 10 health risks. It kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. (Source: UNAIDS global report, 2010; WHO World Hunger and Poverty Statistics, 2011).

6.  A third of all deaths in children under the age of five in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. (Source: UNICEF Report on Child Nutrition, 2006)

7. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from pregnancy through age two, are the critical window in which to tackle undernutrition. A proper diet in this period can protect them from the mental and physical stunting that can result from malnutrition. (Source: UN Standing Committee on Nutrition, 2009)
8.  It costs just US $0.25 per day to provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy. (Source: WFP, 2011)

9. Malnourished mothers often give birth to underweight babies who are 20 per cent more likely to die before the age of five. Up to 17 million children are born underweight every year. (Source: A World Fit for Children, UNICEF, 2007)

10. By 2050, climate change and erratic weather patterns will have pushed another 24 million children into hunger. Almost half of these children will live in sub-Saharan Africa. (Source: Climate Change and Hunger: Responding to the Challenge, WFP, 2009)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW...

I'm sharing this story that has been going around through e-mails. I've read this before but reading it again always reminds to appreciate where I am now.


YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

"Good morning", said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground.

The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new.. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before...

"Leave me alone," he growled.... To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.

"Are you hungry?" she asked.
"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away."

The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

"What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone."

Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked.

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"

The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"

"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."

"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up.

"Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."

" This is a good deal for you, Jack" the officer answered. "Don't blow it.."

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived.

The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. "What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this, is this man in trouble?"

"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business...."

Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled....... "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"

"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."

"And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?"

"What business is that of yours?"

"I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."

"Oh."

The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle.

"Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"

"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."

"Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"

"Yes, mam. That would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."
The officer watched him walk away.

"You certainly put him in his place," he said.

"That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this."

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently.

"Jack, do you remember me?"
Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar."

"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off-chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy."

"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble... Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said.

"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons...He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet... If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you."

There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you?" he said.

"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus..... He led me to you."

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways.

"Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.

"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And..And thank you for the coffee."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

different way to honor a mom - not only with presents but also by helping impoverished women and girls through charity. It is ...goiNg beyond flowers for mom...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Abortion or Let a Deformed baby live...

It must be torture for a mother to have to choose between abortion and letting the baby in her womb live knowing it will be born defective and never have a normal life. The Indian Government should act swiftly in preventing endosulfan spraying that have affected the lives of so many people in Kerala, India...
 
I'm sharing the link on the Tehelka article on what endosulfan spraying has done to many people in Kerala...hoping that the Indian government acts soon to stop the chemical effect of endosulfan to unborn babies.
 
It reminds me of the Orange chemcial used during the war in Vietnam. Many children there have deformities too due to exposure of their parents to the chemical.
 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Understanding the Concept of Sacrifice...

Excerpt from the article about a 9-year old Japanese boy who gave despite losing everything...

"The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he didn't. He took the bag of food, went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed.

"I was shocked. I asked him why he didn't eat it and instead added it to the food pile. He answered: 'Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally.'


"When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn't see me cry.

"A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good must be a great society, a great people." 

Full story in the link below:

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20110420-332334/Deliverance

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

so touching...I'm sharing this and hope it touches a chord in the heart of others too
"One day a son asks his father: "Daddy, will you run the marathon with me?" The father answers yes and both run their first marathon together. One day, the son asks his father if he wants to run the marathon with him again and the father answers yes. They both run the marathon together again. Then one day the son asks his father: "Daddy, will you run the Ironman with me?" (the Ironman is the toughest...it requires a 4km swim, 180km biking and 42km running). The father says yes again. This all sounds easy...but check this video."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

International Women's Day...

March 8 is International Women's Day...





In 1975, the United Nations designated the year as "International Women's Year." Every March 8 thereafter, International Women's Day is celebrated worldwide by women and pro-women organizations to emphasize not only the necessity of women equality but also their significant role in solving major world problems like poverty and malnutrition.

Women have come a long way over the years from not even being able to express their right to vote to being World Leaders who contribute to economic progress. This is a tribute to all the women...mothers, leaders, wives, professionals who in their own way made this world a better place to live in...

http://www.betterworldcampaign.org/iwd-2011/

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Femicide ─ the murder of women because they are women...

How can one justify taking the life of another because of one's gender? Is it culture ? upbringing? environment? or plain hatred for the opposite gender? Whatever it is, the reality exists and violence against women has to be addressed...

Violence against Women - Facts and Figures Say NO - UNiTE